Addiction Treatment Costs $35 Billion Annually to Treat 11% of Addicts

2961189506_c446e06cfd_zAddiction treatment may be the beginning of a lifelong recovery. It was for me. In 1977 I went to a modest home for alcoholic women. It was very progressive I realize now. We had individual and group therapy, AA meetings out of the home and in the home, meditation techniques, 12 step group work through the first 3 steps, and work therapy (we did all the work needed and rotated jobs.

  1.  From Brooke Feldman: “Sorry, Come Back Monday Morning”: Would We Accept This For Other Life Threatening Health Conditions?:

Imagine if you or a loved one went into diabetic shock on a Friday evening, and when presenting for treatment, were told to come back Monday morning at 9:00am.

Consider for a second if you or a loved one were experiencing extraordinarily high blood pressure, and upon calling the physician, learned that there is a 3 week waiting list to be seen.

Think for just a moment about if you or a loved one faced a recurrence of cancer but were told by the insurance company that all of the allotted treatment funding for the year had been exhausted.

I imagine most of us would find this unacceptable. I envision that many of us would be outraged. It would seem ludicrous, after all, to be seeking medical treatment for a life threatening condition but wind up finding ourselves unable to receive the life saving treatment we need, when we needed it. Many of us would become frustrated. Some of us might begin to lose hope. A good number of us would grow disillusioned and wonder why our systems are failing us. Too many of us would die.

Every single day across the country, this deplorable scenario is precisely what is taking place. Individuals and their families are routinely being turned away as they bang on the walls of systems in exasperating attempts to receive medical treatment for the life threatening condition of substance use disorder. We are being told to come back during normal business hours for a condition that does not go away at 5:00 pm on a Friday evening. We are being placed on long waiting lists of days, weeks or even months for a condition that kills more people than automobile accidents. We are being denied appropriate levels of treatment, or any treatment at all, for a treatable condition that has an enormously devastating human and financial impact on individuals, families and communities when left untreated.

Read more here.

                     2.From Brian Palmer : “I Might Have Said “No” to Rehab, Too“:

Amy Winehouse’s death from alcohol poisoning in 2011 gave rehab advocates a chance to cluck. The demise of the singer who so publicly slammed their profession—“I just need a friend/ I’m not gonna spend 10 weeks/ Have everyone think I’m on the mend”—was an irresistible chance to offer their “if onlys.” If only she had reached out to us. If only she had gotten help.

This is what makes Asif Kapadia’s Amy, one of five nominees for Best Documentary Feature this year, so interesting. Winehouse did seek help. She even attended rehab, the very institution she dismissed as a PR charade, at least twice. But rehab didn’t save her. Nor did it save Cory Monteith, Whitney Houston, or many others.

The life and death of Amy Winehouse isn’t a lesson in celebrity hubris. It’s an example of how poorly researched our system of addiction medicine really is. We spend $13 billion every year on addiction treatment with very little proof that it works. Studies on the efficacy of inpatient rehab are contradictory, and those that find strong, positive results are limited to certain kinds of patients who may not reflect the general population. The system seems to work for some people, but we have no idea why it works for them or, more importantly, why it fails so many others.

There is a maxim used in other fields of medicine, that if you can choose from among many treatments for a single disorder, none is very effective. Once doctors develop an effective treatment, the alternatives fall away. Nowhere is this problem more evident than in addiction medicine. The most venerable treatment regime, the 12-step program, has limited supporting data, despite decades of history and millions of patients. Prescription drugs to treat addiction likewise perform inconsistently in studies.

Read more here.

3.  From Dan Munro, Forbes magazine: “Inside the $35 Billion Addiction Treatment Industry”:

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency estimates that over 23 million Americans (age 12 and older) are addicted to alcohol and other drugs. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), just under 11% (2.5 million) received care at an addiction treatment facility in 2012. SAMHSA also estimates that the market for addiction treatment is about $35 billion per year.

The vast majority of addiction treatment is based either partially or entirely on the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), but is there scientific evidence to support AA as a clinical treatment? Should addiction treatment centers make enormous profits by simply funneling substance abusers into the free fellowship of AA?

These are the primary questions behind The Business of Recovery ‒ a new documentary that opened earlier tonight at the Newport Beach Film Festival. Like many documentaries, there are some startling statistics ‒ including this provocative one delivered early in the 81-minute film.

Read more here.

Photo credit.


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